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From Eurotrash wine bars to pulsating lounges, the East Village has seen its share of both trendy and trad newcomers this past year. And while you could do worse than sipping vino while bopping your top to hip-hop en française (the equivalent of belting “bam-bo-lay-oh!” in some annoying Upper East Side joint), you still have the sneaking suspicion that you were destined for something far greater. Here’s a roundup of some of the more noteworthy additions.
A recent Thursday evening found Bavarian forest ZUM SCHNEIDER (107 Avenue C, 598-1098) empty. The trilingual bartender (let’s call him Krek) dropped his copy of The Economist to proffer samples of the dozen or so taps along with Berlitz-style German lessons. Krek thinks Pauliner’s “totally girlie-man beer,” so he pours some other especially tasty brews, like Hacker Pschorr (you pronounce the p) Munich Dark, Weihensephaner (the first h is silent) Befe Dark, and Hofbrauhauf Munchen. At $5 for a stein that’s way bigger than a pint, and with an alcohol content that’ll knock you for a loop, it’s one of the best deals in the hood. Other highlights: the gratis chunky pretzels, long communal tables that’ll seat your whole posse, and bonus travel tips from Krek (Munich’s his favorite city; Crete’s his favorite island; and he won’t set foot in France). Best of all were the on-the-house “schnitts” (or half-beers) for the road, which left this critic utterly schnitt-faced. And ladies, it appears that Krek’s single; witness the steady stream of solo female fans chatting him up.
Next stop: Tuesday after-work drinks at retro IKE—as in “we like” said prez—(103 Second Avenue, 598-1098). Opt for a black leather banquette or head straight for the bar, where the friendly mixologist shakes up smallish $7 “classic cocktails,” the best of which were the standard Old Fashioned and the ingenious Americana (100 proof bourbon, sugars, bitters, champagne, sliced peach). Other hits were their “soon to be famous” deviled eggs ($6) and a mean shrimp-and-crab dip ($11). And if you’re really feeling the gimmick, order a $6 Swanson TV dinner, including fried chicken (complete with too-small brownie!) or Salisbury steak (with fruit compote!). With its get-down soul soundtrack, this place is gonna try and give longtime fave MARION’S CONTINENTAL a run for its money!
Last stop is the stylish PLANT BAR (217 East 3rd Street, 375-9066), which has banked on the DJ-bar combo (DRINKLAND, NO MALICE PALACE, to name a few) so popular in these undanceable days. The tiny spot is said to get packed with trendoids in the late hours, but only a few funky locals (who made for some colorful eavesdropping) were lurking on a recent Tuesday night. The purple-haired bartender, a fun and amicable lass, pours $5 pints like Pilsner Urquell and Stella Artois (she recommends the latter ’cause it makes you “crazy”). The place is sparkly too, with black-and-white checkered floors and a green-plant motif (duh!). C’est la vie Gypsy Kings! —C. SPARTOS